(from Santa Anita)
Jockey Joel Rosario, second to Rafael Bejarano at Santa Anita in overall victories with 42 through March 10, fired agent Vic Stauffer and hired Ron Ebanks, who had represented cousins Tyler and Michael Baze.
Stauffer, who said he was informed of the decision by Rosario March 10, also handles business for jockey Martin Garcia, who won the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) March 6 aboard Misremembered .
“Joel contacted me yesterday after the races,” Stauffer said on the morning of March 11. “He said very little. He said he felt that he could do better with a new agent. That’s all he said.”
Rosario is Santa Anita’s leading stakes rider with eight wins at the current meet.
Asked if he was surprised by Rosario’s decision, Stauffer said, “I was heartbroken. I put my heart and soul into it and thought I did a great job. I feel saddened, but I wish him well.”
Stauffer, best known as Hollywood Park's race caller, had represented the 25-year-old native of the Dominican Republic for 16 months.
“I got him at the fall meet of Hollywood in 2008,” Stauffer said. “At that time, he was 10th in the standings; he ended up second. The next meet was the main one at Santa Anita; he finished third. The next meet was Hollywood spring; he was leading rider. Then was Del Mar; he was leading rider.
"Then came Oak Tree. He had a chance to tie for the title in the last race of the meet, and finished second. The next meet was Hollywood fall, and he was leading rider."
Stauffer noted that in 2009, Rosario was fifth in North America in purse earnings. Thus far this year, he ranked third in North America in earnings.
Ebanks represents Rosario immediately. “He’s the best young rider I’ve seen,” Ebanks said. “The sky’s the limit.”
Michael Baze said he would ride out the Santa Anita meet, then head to Arlington Park where he will be represented by agent Jay Fedor, who currently handles Corey Nakatani. Tyler Baze, whose ties were severed by Ebanks when he took on Rosario, is expected to decide on a new agent shortly.